I started teaching myself some decorating techniques almost 35 years ago. My first roses looked like pink artichokes. Then I took some Wilton courses and refined my techniques. I was very eager to start doing wedding cakes for both an artistic outlet as well as making some money. I really enjoyed it at first, then I started learning that dealing with the clients wasn't all hearts and sunshine. My policy was 50% down and the rest was due 2 weeks before the wedding. One client didn't want to pay me the balance until the day of the wedding. She said, "How do I know if you will show up with the cake?" I was speechless. Somehow I had the presence of mind to ask her how I could possibly know if she was giving me a good check the day of the wedding. She was very insulted by the suggestion that she would write a bad check and proceeded to tell me she had $25,000 in her account. I ended up getting my money. She ended up getting her cake 2 weeks later at her wedding, and after the check had cleared.
Another time I did a 75serving 1st Birthday cake for relatives of my BIL's girlfriend. They said they would pay me after the party which I agreed to since they were almost family. What a shock! They didn't have the money. Said they would give it to me later. I knew that wasn't going to happen so I said not to trouble themselves and that I didn't mind waiting at their house until they got the money from her mom. It was nearly midnight when they came back with the money, but I did get paid for my deeply discounted cake.
Once I had a bride whose future MIL was pretty much running the whole show. The girl was very meek and the MIL had a strong personality. The bride was getting married on the anniversary of her MIL. As the MIL was paying for the cake, she ordered two different 3 tiered cakes. One for the bride and one for the MIL's anniversary so the wedding could also be an anniversary party. I remember being horrified, but not questioning it as I was basically getting a double order.
After the incident with the check issue, I decided that if it wasn't going to be fun for me, then I didn't want to do it anymore, at least in terms of developing my hobby into a full fledged business. I just stuck to doing cakes for friends and relatives. I have no idea how many cakes I've done over the years, compensated or for free, but since I do it strictly on my own terms now, I get much more enjoyment out of it.
Oh, a word about cutting cakes. I HATE, HATE, HATE it when people who don't know how to cut cakes properly do a hack job on cakes. I'm really kind of OCD about it. If I do a wedding cake and I'm invited to the wedding, I'll be GLAD to cut your cake if there is no professional server there. In the my office, they all know better than to go near any kind of cake, regardless of who brought it in. It MUST be cut properly, especially if it is a rectangular cake. I can cut those almost perfectly into 24 or 35 servings, of nearly identical size. One time I almost literally threw my body in front of one of the attorneys who wanted to cut her own piece. Hahaha, no one argues with me because I am usually holding the knife!
I have loved reading every single one of these 161 pages of what not to say to a baker. It further confirms to me that I am a better administrative assistant than business woman. Had I been in business for myself, there is no way I would have been able to keep my cool these 30 some years.